HUFFINGTON POST
09/10/2014 12:00 pm ET Updated Nov 10, 2014

France Says It's Ready To Take Part In Military Action Against Islamic State

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PARIS, Sept 10 (Reuters) - France said on Wednesday it would take part in military air action against Islamic State militants in Iraq if necessary, but it said any action it takes against the group in Syria would take a different form.

"In Iraq ... we will take part in military air action if necessary. The situation in Syria is different," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a speech at the Sciences Po academy in Paris.

"Some in the media say France is ready to act in Iraq, but not Syria. No! We must act in both cases, but not with the same modalities," he said, according to a copy of his speech sent to Reuters.

The United States is building a military, political and financial coalition to defeat the militants controlling parts of Iraq and Syria.

As part of those efforts, French President Francois Hollande and Fabius will travel to Baghdad on Friday ahead of a conference of regional and international powers in Paris on Monday to coordinate efforts to tackle Islamic State.

"An international mobilization is necessary to respond to this trans-national danger that can reach our territory," Fabius said. "In Iraq the government and minorities have called for help (and) we answered with deliveries of military equipment and humanitarian aid."

While France has said it is ready to be part of the coalition being created by the United States, it has remained prudent after being left out on a limb last year when the United States called off planned air strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad just hours before French planes were due to take off.

Fabius categorically ruled out working with Assad, saying the Syrian leader had in large part contributed to Islamic State's advance.

"That is why we will continue to help the moderate Syrian opposition that is fighting Islamic State and Assad at the same time," he said.

Paris, which was the first Western state to recognize the opposition Syrian coalition, has delivered a limited amount of weapons to the rebels.

French officials have said that there has to be some form of international legality before taking action in Syria.

"Syria is complicated. We aren't going to send a letter asking Assad for help. He is not a credible partner, he is complicit to Islamic State," said a senior French diplomat.

"Washington needs Sunni states to build his coalition. I can't imagine Saudi Arabia or the UAE joining a coalition that is buddy-buddy with Assad." (Reporting By John Irish; editing by Mark John and Hugh Lawson)